In a vacuum, The Catcher in the Rye is a pretty straightforward story– not a whole lot happens. But if you’re at all familiar with American culture, you’re probably well aware that it has taken on an enormously prolific life of its own. Probably you read the book for school as a teen, or even a tween if you grew up here, and you might have noticed that it has a somewhat polarizing effect. If you identified with the book’s hero, a 17-year-old kid named Holden Caulfield, anyone else who shared this affinity was an OK person too. But plenty of people just don’t get Holden’s misanthropic cynicism, and it’s weird, but there seems to be a built-in emotional trigger point here for those who do: clearly the haters must be “phonies” then, too. As time goes on, and teenage angst either subsides or turns into something else, like, playing in a black metal band or four-martini lunch hours, Holden’s frustration with the world’s many, many disappointments seems more like kid stuff. And most people realize that, OK not everyone is such a phony after all. But not everyone lets go of Holden so easily.
I’d just barely cracked Matt Gallagher’s debut novel, Youngblood, and, to my surprise, I was really, sincerely into it. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite movies happen to be war films (see: Apocalypse Now and MASH) and who can argue that Cormac McCarthy’s descriptions of carnage aren’t some of the more beautiful, vivid bits of contemporary English language literature? But when it comes to the War on Terror, usually I prefer to take my cultural output as dry as it gets.
If you’ve noticed these incendiary posters hung around Brooklyn, you’ll be happy to know we found the man behind the curtain. Mark, who opted not to share his last name—“because I’ve been putting down so many blogs”—is a 25-year-old reality-TV producer with (no surprise here) a history of rejection and a big-ass chip on his shoulder.